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determine the outcome here. barack obama's victory here in north carolina four years ago was the first by a democrat since 1976. it was helped in large part by a huge turnout by african-americans, a whooping 72%, well above the national average. but his win here was his slimmest margin in the country. a mere 14,000 votes. it looks like he'll have to do as well or better among blacks and other voters in this deeply divided state. the task is made harder by the hit north carolina took in the recession. unemployment was 9.7%, fifth highest in the country. the rate for african-americans is nearly double. and the state has seen enormous change. demographically with the reverse migration of blacks returning and an influx of hispanics and other new residents. and economically. u.n.c. professor and long time political reporter says north carolina is moving in two directions at once >> the up escalator in this state is the economic diversification into higher-wage, higher-skill, research and development, biotechnology. the down escalator is the collapse of the traditional industries of textiles
in the past few weeks, a sign both parties still think they can win here. president obama has taken a lead in recent polls. still, he is not headed into this election with the same advantage he had in 2008 when he won the state by ten points. two years ago, the republican party chipped away at the democrats lead, and now claim almost 11,000 more registered active voters. mitt romney came in a close second here in the january caucuses, that's four years after he ignored, and lost, the state-- also proof of how campaigning here can make a difference. republicans want to capitalize on that momentum. >> in 2008, the obama campaign had the organizational advantage in iowa. in 2012, republicans have stepped up their game. they had done more by april than john mccain did in iowa by election night in 2008. >> reporter: but political support in iowa doesn't simply rely on the sheer force of campaigning. there are more voters registered without party affiliation in iowa than there are republicans or democrats. many iowans measure the candidates independent of their party. voters like 19-year-old cha
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